2016 RIO OLYMPIC GAMES
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Swimming: August 6-13
- Olympic Aquatics Stadium, Barra Olympic Park, Rio de Janeiro
- Prelims – 9:00 a.m/12:00 p.m PST/EST (1:00 p.m local), Finals – 6:00 p.m/9:00 p.m PST/EST (10:00 p.m local)
- SwimSwam previews
- Schedule & Results
- Live Stream (NBC)
American Simone Manuel pulled a shocking upset in the 100 free to become the first black woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming.
Manuel, a heavy underdog to world record-holding Australian Cate Campbell, surged into the finish for a massive persona-best in 52.70. That time tied her with Canadian teenager Penny Oleksiak for gold.
Based on our research, that marks the first time a black woman has topped an Olympic podium in swimming.
The first black Olympic swimming medalist was the Netherlands’ Enith Brigitha, who picked up two bronze medals at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Her medals came in the 100 and 200 frees.
It wasn’t until 2004 that a female African-American swimmer won an Olympic medal. That was Maritza Correia, who won a silver medal in Athens as part of the American 4×100 free relay. Correia, now Maritza McClendon, wrote an opinion piece for SwimSwam just last year to reflect on a historic 2015 NCAA meet that saw the first-ever 1-2-3 sweep by black swimmers in an event at the NCAA Championships.
The winner of that event? Manuel herself, swimming for the Stanford Cardinal.
The first black swimmer to win an Olympic swimming gold was Anthony Nesty, who competed for the nation of Suriname in the 1980s. He won the 100 fly at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
More recently, Anthony Ervin became the first African-American swimmer to win Olympic gold, winning the 50 free in 2000. Cullen Jones followed him in that feat at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and now Manuel becomes just the 3rd overall swimmer in that exclusive group.